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Peo union workers march on palace over cost of living crisis

Διευθυντής Γραφείου Τύπου ΠτΔ – Ψή
Protesters handed a memo to Andreas Iosif, the director of the president's press office

Left-wing trade union Peo claimed on Saturday that the Anastasiades-Disy government deprived workers of €7.5 billion worth of income during ten years in office.

The union held a demonstration march at 10am over the cost of living crisis, and marched from the finance ministry to the presidential palace where they handed a memo to Andreas Iosif, the director of the president’s press office.

Speaking outside the presidential palace, the general-secretary of the Akel-affiliated union, Sotiroulla Charalambous said that despite boasting about improved economic results and a “wiser economic policy,” earnings were still low.

She said: “From the 56 per cent that was the share of wages in the national income, there was a drop to 46 per cent, while the income from profits went from 45 per cent to 58 per cent.

“The Anastasiades-Disy decade has deprived workers of income that reaches the amount of €7.5 billion,” she said.

The current government inherited the financial crisis from the five-year administration of the Akel government led by then President Demetris Christofias, which ended in March 2013 with a bank bail-in of depositors and a €10 billion international bailout by the Eurogroup, European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund.

According to Charalambous, from 2013 to 2019 workers lost a total of €750 million and from 2020 to 2021 they lost a total of €950 million annually.

On the minimum wage the government has adopted, Charalambous said: “It is a decision that provokes disappointment and anger among workers that feel the government is ridiculing and devaluing them.”

She said the major disappointment is not only based in the amount of the salary, but that it leaves room for employers to increase working hours, without overtime, and cut from bonus salaries.

Charalambous said that the government was leaving society unprotected and insisting that the surge in prices was only temporary.

“More than a year later, with inflation running at record highs and eating up one tenth of workers’ incomes, we’re now being told to be patient, be smart consumers, save and turn off the lights,” she added.

According to her, the loss of workers’ incomes during the current year, when they are being faced with an unprecedented inflation crisis, is expected to exceed €1.5 billion.

“Cyprus is also fourth from the bottom among the EU countries, in terms of spending to deal with the inflation and energy crisis,” she added.

Charalambous said it was estimated that from the increased VAT revenues due to the price increases, the government would have additional revenues of €1 billion by the end of 2022.

She called on them to take measures to deal with inflation, high energy prices, and taxation.

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